I’ve always been a huge fan of horror manga, as you can see on my long list of the best horror manga of all time.
While I’m more torn towards horror novels and short stories, there’s something special about horror manga. It’s the mixture of scary story-telling accompanied with disturbing visuals that makes them so interesting.
In this article, I want to present you with some of the most disturbing manga I ever read. While most of them are horror manga, some are more akin to deep psychological tales. All of them, however, are deeply disturbing manga.
Table of Contents
- 14. Keep on Vibrating
- 13. God’s Right Hand, Devil’s Left Hand
- 12. Hideout
- 11. Ibitsu
- 10. The Laughing Vampire
- 9. Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show.
- 8. Lychee Light Club
- 7. Franken Fran
- 6. Ichi the Killer
- 5. Homunculus
- 4. Freesia
- 3. Kamisama no Iutoori and Kamisama no Iutoori Ni
- 2. Uzumaki
- 1. Berserk
14. Keep on Vibrating
Keep on Vibrating by Jiro Matsumoto is the only adult themed manga on this list of disturbing manga.
It’s a collection of one-shots depicting sex, violence and many disturbing and surreal incidents.
The first chapter of Keep on Vibrating is one of the most surreal and disturbing pieces of work I ever witnessed. It’s full of explicit sex, violence and an abstruse plot that makes almost no sense. It’s the perfect introduction to this work.
This combination of surreal imagery and the general insanity that makes Keep on Vibrating such an enticing read.
The art is unique, shoddy and gritty and helps to bring forth the strange atmosphere in this work. Backdrops, especially those in later chapters, can be highly disturbing while dialogues are often as mundane as they can be. It only adds to the overall surreal nature of the work.
The plot of each individual chapter is weird, but here and there one can notice rare glimpses of genius.
Keep on Vibrating is one of the weirdest, most disturbing manga I read, but also vastly different from any others. It’s a work that needs to be experienced, but one full of explicit and surreal imagery.
13. God’s Right Hand, Devil’s Left Hand
Kazuo Umezu is a the man who defined the horror manga genre. His style is unique and his works, including The Drifting Classroom and Orochi:Blood, have influenced the genre markedly.
For this list, however, I want to feature his most disturbing manga God’s Right Hand, Devil’s Left Hand. It’s an outlandish and disturbing manga that features copious mounts of gore.
The manga features a young boy, Sou, who often has visions of terrible events. He always tries to prevent them from happening, but its rarely an easy feet and things almost never go his way.
While some scenarios depicted in this manga are more normal, others are highly bizarre and feature heavy instances of body horror.
Kazuo Umezu’s style, however, needs some time getting used to. It’s quite old-fashioned and to some people it might appear as ugly. While this style might not be for everyone and is rather simplistic, it never fails to showcase the violent events depicted.
Even if God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand, is an older manga, I still regard it as a classic and one of the most disturbing manga I ever read. If you’re interested in brutal, more disturbing manga, I highly recommend checking it out.
Hideout is not only stunning to look at but also one of the most disturbing manga I ever read.
The story follows a troubled writer, Kirishima Seiichi. During a vacation with his wife, he plans to murder her. The reasons for this are only revealed throughout the story.
His attempt fails, and he’s forced to follow her into a cave. Soon enough, however, it’s revealed that the two of them aren’t the only ones in this cave.
Hideout is a story told in flashbacks and as the manga continues, we get various glimpses into Seiichi’s life prior to the vacation.
It’s a fantastically disturbing manga and a gloomy, depressing tale that throws us into a downward spiral that keeps getting progressively worse.
The manga is short and only comprises nine chapters. Still, Hideout features some of the finest art I’ve seen in horror manga and the story is masterfully told.
Ibitsu is another one of the most disturbing manga I ever came upon. It’s not only terrifying, but it also features a lot of unsettling imagery.
When Kazuki, our protagonist, takes out the trash, he encounters a strange Lolita Girl. She asks him if he’s got a little sister. Not thinking about it, he answers that, yes, he’s got a sister. From this point onward, the strange girl becomes obsessed with him.
Ibitsu starts out as a story focused on stalking. It isn’t long, however, before it becomes more deranged and twisted. In later chapters, the manga doesn’t shy away from graphical depictions of gruesome violence and torture.
It’s yet another, shorter, but disturbing manga, comprising only thirteen chapters. Still, it’s worth a read.
10. The Laughing Vampire
Suehiro Maruo is a horror manga artist who’s most famous for his erotic gore work. Because of this, his work is strange and disturbing. The Laughing Vampire is no different and features quite a few sexually charged scenes.
What makes it stand out, however, is that it’s a truly disturbing manga. Even worse, many, if not all the characters in this manga are terrible people or downright insane.
Yet, The Laughing Vampire is interesting for another reason. It presents us with a unique spin on the vampire legend, one I’ve never seen prior.
It’s a work that’s not for the faint of heart and one of the most twisted and disturbing manga of all time.
9. Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show.
Here we have another manga by Suehiro Maruo.
Midori, a twelve-year-old girl, gets lost during a school trip and is taken in by a freak show. From then on, her life becomes a nightmare. The young girl is constantly abused by the other members of the show.
Mr. Arashi’s Freak Show is full of disturbing imagery, depictions of graphical violence and abuse.
It’s a terrible, downright tragic tale, one that will stay with you long after you’ve read it. As with The Laughing Vampire, it’s another twisted and highly disturbing manga.
Lychee Light Club might be one of the strangest manga on this list. The art, the atmosphere and feel of this manga make it very reminiscent of the works of Suehiro Maruo. This is no accident, as writer Usamaru Furuya stated he was influenced by the works of Suehiro Maruo.
The manga centers on the members of the Lychee Light Club and a robot called Lychee they created. This robot is programed to bring them beautiful girls.
Over the course of the story, things between the club members get out of control, and their methods become increasingly more brutal and outlandish. This, eventually, leads to internal struggle and brutal murder.
Lychee Light Club is another highly disturbing manga, featuring copious amounts of gore and other unsettling and twisted ideas.
Franken Fran is anything but a normal manga. No, it’s one of the weirdest and most disturbing manga I ever read. It follows the character of Fran, a girl created by a brilliant surgeon, who’s taken over his work after he vanished.
The manga is more a collection of one-shots and told in episodic fashion. It can be best compared to such works as Tales From the Crypt and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. In each chapter, we follow Fran as she gets involved in another unique scenario.
Since Fran is a surgeon, many chapters detail medical and surgical procedures. This is already disturbing enough, but the horrible results of these procedures are even more so.
Yet, Franken Fran is not entirely dark and gloomy. Quite a few chapters depict scenarios that are more humorous or satirical. They all, however, feature disturbing imagery.
Franken Fran is a mixed bag. Not all of its chapters are outstanding. It’s especially those that lean more towards humor that are weaker. When Franken Fran is at its best, however, it’s a horrible delight and can be a highly disturbing manga.
6. Ichi the Killer
Ichi the Killer is not a horror manga, but it’s definitely horrible.
It’s one of the most graphical and disturbing manga I ever read, but also one of the greatest. The manga was penned by Yamamoto Hide who’s outdone himself in creating a cast of batshit insane characters.
Ichi the Killer is the story of two characters. One is Ichi, the titular killer, the other the yakuza Kakihara. These two characters are not only the driving forth behind the manga’s story, but they are also polar opposites.
After his boss vanishes, Kakihara begins a desperate search for the man, which should eventually lead him to a confrontation with Ichi.
Ichi the Killer is extremely graphic and features graphical violence, torture, sexual abuse, rape and even murder.
Yet, the manga is no mere gore feast. It’s a deeply psychological tale that explores a variety of themes. The interplay between sadism and masochism is the most dominant one. Other themes featured are those of manipulation, identity disorder and childhood abuse. These themes come together and create one of the most compelling, but also most disturbing, manga of all time.
It’s the depiction of those themes and all the raw violence showcased that makes Ichi the Killer work so well. It doesn’t filter and instead shows us the darkest underbelly of society and the depths of human depravity.
If you plan on reading Ichi the Killer, I’d like to warn you. It’s a fucked up story that can be downright disgusting. If that’s what you’re looking for, however, then you’re in for one of the greatest psychological and most disturbing manga of all time. It’s a fantastic, if sick work.
Homunculus is another manga penned by Hideo Yamamoto, the author of Ichi the Killer. It’s a less brutal and disturbing manga than Ichi the Killer, but it’s also much, much weirder.
Susumu Nakoshi is a young man who lives in his car. One day, he encounters Manabu Ito, a medical student who’s looking for test subjects on which to perform trepanation. Nakoshi eventually agrees to undergo the procedure. As a result, he can now see distorted versions of humans when looking at them with his left eye, the titular homunculi.
Homunculus is one of the most unique, but also one of the most disturbing manga I ever read. It starts out interesting and almost straightforward, but it becomes progressively weirder.
It’s a psychological masterpiece that features a variety of themes, including vanity, trauma and identity disorder. Homunculus also features its fair share of disturbing scenes, both violent and sexual. What makes it such an unsettling and disturbing manga isn’t the violence, however, but the deep psychological implications so prevalent in this work.
The plot of Homunculus feels unpredictable. Before long, it becomes more of a character study, one depicting a slow descent into madness.
The art in Homunculus is as fantastic as it is weird. At times it can be abstract, at others disturbing, but it always brilliantly showcases what’s going on. The most interesting part of this manga is without a doubt the various homunculi who are nothing but surreal.
Homunculus is a unique, surreal and disturbing manga. It features some of the most complex characters in any manga and presents us with a deep psychological study. While the narrative might be unrestrained at times, and derails at others, I still consider the manga a masterpiece.
If you’re looking for a surreal, creative and disturbing manga, Homunculus is among the best.
Freesia is another manga by Jiro Matsumoto, the creator of Keep on Vibrating.
The manga’s set in a dystopian Japan in which retaliatory killings are legal. If a loved one is murdered, you’re allowed to kill their murderer or hire someone to do it for you.
Kano is a man who works for an agency specializing in these types of retaliatory killings.
The Japan depicted in Freesia is a dark, gloomy and cruel place, and a heavy, almost feasible depression hangs over the entire manga. As you can tell, Freesia isn’t a pleasant story. It’s a tale of horrible, broken and damaged people. Almost the entire cast of this disturbing manga is in mentally ill.
Kano, our protagonist, is no different. He has schizophrenia, hallucinations, and memory failure. This is well showcased as we see the disturbing, surreal world Kano lives in. What makes him different and much more interesting, however, is that he understands it’s him and not the world who’s crazy and even tries to get better.
Many other members of the cast suffer from similar ailments, the most dominant that of delusions and hallucinations.
While one might assume Freesia is a manga about bloody, retaliator killings, the manga focuses more on personal stories. It tells us the often tragic backstories of the retaliatory targets, makes us sympathize with them and their death a tragedy in its own right.
Freesia isn’t a manga that’s back and white, however, but a mush of gray. It showcases a harsh and dystopian world, the toll it takes on its inhabitants and the mental problems it leads to.
Freesia is a gloomy, depressing and disturbing manga, both for its violence but also for the depicted state of its main characters. And yet, it’s a fantastic and surreal experience, and one of the best manga at what it does.
3. Kamisama no Iutoori and Kamisama no Iutoori Ni
I’m a big fan of stories centered on death games. Kamisama no Iutoori and its sequel are among the best in the genre and some of the most disturbing manga I ever read.
Takahata Shun is a high school student and utterly bored with his life. All this changes one morning. His teacher’s head explodes, a Daruma doll appears and the very first of many death games begins.
The series introduces a variety of death games, most of which are extremely weird and surreal. These games are often simple at first glance, but their execution makes them much more interesting.
While most manga in this sub-genre feature realistic games, Kamisama no Iutoori’s are nothing but surreal and downright absurd.
What I came to enjoy the most about this series were its protagonists, especially the more deranged members of the cast. A favorite of mine was Ushimitsu who also developed vastly over the course of the series.
Kamisama no Iutoori is so enjoyable and such a disturbing manga because it doesn’t shy away from killing characters. No one’s safe in this manga, no one, and that’s fantastic.
I enjoyed both parts of the manga, but it truly shines during its second part. The art, especially in later chapters, is absolutely gorgeous.
Overall, I absolutely loved reading this manga. It’s an enjoyable, if, at times, disturbing manga. If you’re a fan of death games, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this series.
I’m a huge fan of Junji Ito’s works, as you can see in my long list of the best Junji Ito stories.
While there are many bizarre and disturbing manga out there, few are as unique as his masterpiece, Uzumaki.
The manga centers on Kirie Goshima and Shuuichi Saitou, who live in the small coastal town of Kurouzu-cho. It tells of the events taking place when the town becomes infected by spirals.
Over the course of this three volume epic, we witness one disturbingly scary incident after another, all related to spirals.
The madness so prevalent in this disturbing manga is apparent right from the first chapter. It shows us what happens to Shuuichi’s father, who’s obsessed with spirals. Before long, this obsession comes to a terrifying conclusion, featuring one of Uzumaki’s most famous and disturbing pages.
The first two volumes of Uzumaki are told in episodic fashion. Each chapter features another disturbing, spiral-related incident, all witnessed by our protagonists. Only in the third volume is the narrative tied together and the story brought to a Lovecraftian conclusion.
There are many reasons that make Uzumaki stand out from other disturbing manga.
The first is Junji Ito’s fantastic, detailed art and his creativity. His imagination is as incredible as it is disturbing. People are twisted, warped and changed into spirals, always ending in dire results. Yet, some chapters go even further, depicting incidents that are unsettling in a much deeper way. I present some of these in my list of the best Uzumaki chapters.
The second is the unique and weird premise. As opposed to other disturbing manga, we don’t encounter killers or creatures, no feasible antagonist. Instead, there’s only the spiral, a concept, which has taken control of Kurouzu-cho as an omnipresent curse.
Uzumaki is a manga I highly recommend to any horror fan out there. It’s one of the most disturbing manga of all time, but also one of the greatest accomplishments in horror manga history.
Rest in peace Kentaro Miura, thanks for sharing your gift with the world.
Berserk is probably the single greatest manga of all time, but also one of the most disturbing. It’s a dark fantasy story full of brutal action, lots of gore and incredible monster design.
The manga tells the story of Guts, who’s known as the Black Swordsman. He’s on a quest for revenge against demonic beings, the apostles, and a man known as Griffith.
Berserk appears to be simple at first. It seems to be a story of a man with a sword as tall as himself who fights his way through demons and humans alike.
That’s true for the first arc of the manga, but during the Golden Age arc, one of the greatest flashbacks of all time, we learn a lot more about Guts.The Golden Age arc also introduced to Griffith.
During the Golden Age arc, the manga explores their relationship, tests it and ultimately severs it.
Why is Berserk such a disturbing manga? It’s because the world of Berserk is a dark place, a horrible place, full of war and atrocities.
Kentaro Miura is never shy about it and presents this world in all its glory and detail. We witness not only wars and brutal battles but also rape, torture, and senseless slaughter. We witness medieval torture methods, religious fanaticism, sacrifices and much more. The most disturbing event in Berserk, however, has to be The Eclipse, the event that brings to a conclusion the Golden Age arc.
The violence in Berserk, however, is always at its most intense when Guts is around. Using his sword, he cuts his way through soldiers, knights in full armor, and demonic beings.
The greatest part about Berserk is the art. The manga almost transcends the medium and especially in later parts, it is more art than manga. When Kentaro Miura was at the top of his game, scarcely few manga artists could compare. It’s this outstanding art, those details that make Berserk truly special, but also make it such a disturbing manga. Kentaro Miura was never shy about using his art and his attention to detail to present us with the worst of the worst in his world.
Another disturbing aspect of Berserk is the many apostles. They are gorgeous to look at. Their design is unique, but they are also extremely grotesque beings.
Overall, Berserk is nothing short of art. While it’s a disturbing manga, it’s also a masterfully told story.
At first glance, especially during the Black Swordsman arc, it might not appear the masterpiece it is, but if you read on, I’m sure it ’ll blow you away.
I can’t recommend Berserk enough. It’s for a reason I consider it the best manga ever written. It’s a beautiful, brutal and disturbing manga. If you’re interested in dark fantasy, horror or manga in general, you need to read Berserk.